Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ninth Circuit Affirms Most of Permanent Injunction in Sheriff Arpaio Racial Profiling Suit

In Melendres v. Arpaio, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in an opinion by Senior Judge Clifford Wallace, and joined by Judges Marcia Berzon and Susan Graber, affirmed in large part the district court's permanent injunction in an action against Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office alleging that defendants have a custom, policy and practice of racially profiling Latino drivers and passengers, and of stopping them pretextually under the auspices of enforcing federal and state immigration-related.

Addressing the defendants’ sufficiency of the evidence argument, the court of appeals held the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendants’ unconstitutional policies extended beyond the saturation patrol context. Moreover, the panel held that the district court did not err in holding that the named plaintiffs had standing to assert the claims of absent class members who were stopped during non-saturation patrols. For the same reasons, the court held that there was no error in the district court’s class certification order.

The court of appeals held that the injunction was not overbroad simply because it included non-saturation patrols. The panel further upheld specific provisions of the injunction pertaining to corrective training and supervision procedures and provisions requiring specific data collection and videorecording of traffic stops. The panel additionally held that most of the provisions dealing with the scope of the appointed Monitor’s assessment authority were narrowly tailored to remedying the specific constitutional violations.

The court of appeals held that the provisions of the injunction which broadly require the appointed Monitor to consider the internal investigations and reports of officer misconduct created a problem to the extent that such internal investigations and reports were unrelated to the constitutional violations found by the district court. The panel held that these provisions were not narrowly tailored to addressing the relevant violations of federal law. The panel therefore vacated those particular provisions and ordered the district court to tailor them so as to address only the constitutional violations at issue in this case. laws.


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